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Manhattan's Marvelous Museums
by David Yeadon

A poster I saw in an uptown restaurant says it all — "New York IS Museums." The Big Apple is also much more, of course — Broadway theaters, Central Park, Bach and ballet at Lincoln Center, fine restaurants, and roaring nightclubs that tingle and throb till dawn. New York is the cutting edge of a thousand professions and lifestyles; it hones the senses and demands the best of its artists, actors, musicians, writers, poets, scientists, and scholars. The heart of New York — Manhattan — is possibly the world's most exacting showcase of talent and creative genius. No wonder, then, that it also possesses some of the world's finest museums.

You could easily spend a month exploring the more than 70 notable museums in Manhattan alone, not to mention dozens of others in the four outer boroughs. The city's museums are rarely dusty repositories of old, tired objects and ideas. They are pumps that are constantly primed, inviting you not merely to sip, but to bathe yourself in knowledge and beauty: Every day there are new exhibition openings, lectures, seminars, workshops, films, and festivals.

For the first-time visitor, the richness and variety of Manhattan's cultural delights may feel more like a deluge. So, to keep from drowning, come for longer than a weekend. Take at least three or four days, and sample the six museums featured here — Manhattan's greats — as well as two or three of the other "bests" presented in the directory. The museums of New York will leave you rejoicing, not only at the vibrancy of the city, but at the range and resonance of the human spirit — of your own spirit. You will never quite be the same again. Guaranteed.

THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART

Even the most extravagant superlatives fade when applied to the glories of the Met. As a New Yorker I consider it the world's greatest museum. To visit New York without exploring its vast halls and galleries is like touring Venice and ignoring St. Mark's. So put this museum at the top of your itinerary and allow plenty of time here. The challenge is that there's so much — over two million artworks and artifacts in 1.4 million square feet of halls, wings, and annexes. So many architects have contributed to today's sprawling edifice that their credits read like a Who's Who of America's finest. It's the same with the museum's benefactors — the Morgans, Rockefellers, Altmans, Wrightsmans, Lehmans, Sacklers — who have helped create an unparalleled institution.

So, having climbed the imposing stairs from Fifth Avenue and entered the Great Hall, you now wonder where, or how, to begin. Don't try to see everything; that could take a week. After all, you have a choice of art collections from the 6th-millennium B.C. and early empires from China to Rome, through the surging Renaissance, and right up to 19th- and 20th-century Western masterpieces of Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism. And that's merely the beginning. Then come the special collections: 60,000 objects of European sculpture and decorative arts; the startling, ritualistic carvings of Oceania in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing; the 4,000 or more musical instruments from around the world; the Costume Institute's fascinating displays; period rooms that transport you back over two dozen historical eras — and we've still hardly started. So study the floor-plan flier or the museum handbook, and then ask at the information desk about guided or tape-recorded tours, gallery talks, and other special activities. I have my own favorite haunts. If I beat the late morning crowds, I make first for the Temple of Dendur, where a soaring skylit space encloses a first-century BC Egyptian temple and gate, set near a reflecting pool. I'll then go to the Asian art collections on the second floor to sit in a recreation of a Ming scholar's garden. The simple architecture and furnishings here meld with a garden of meticulously placed stones, reaffirming that less is indeed more.

The noble knights of Europe, however, were convinced that less was not more, judging from the bulky armor adorning men and horses in the equestrian court on the first floor. Don't miss the airy elegance of the American Wing's garden court nearby, nor the old masters, many of them displayed in rooms that replicate the extravagant homes of their donors, the Lehmans — yet one more niche in this teeming treasure house of art.

THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM

Frank Lloyd Wright was never a man of minor or ambiguous visions. When commissioned to design a new museum here in 1943 — a temple in the spirit of non-objective painting to display the vast modern art collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim — the feisty master dismissed the stuffy revival styling of most museums of his time and conceived an uncompromising, hundred-foot-high Mesopotamian ziggurat-inspired spiral of space under an enormous glass dome — "no stops anywhere," as Wright wrote, "the space gloriously lit within from above." Residents of Fifth Avenue were outraged at the audacity of this concept, which mocked the musty mundanity of their elite apartment towers, but Wright continued unabashed and created a dramatic celebration of New York's spirit. Alas, he never lived to see the museum's completion in 1959, nor the subsequent additions to it, including the recently opened ten-story tower annex of galleries that forms a restrained slab-like foil to the surging bombast of the original. After the museum's 1990-92 restoration, visitors can now begin their explorations at the very top of the spiral (once closed off for storage!) and slowly descend the great ramp, making forays at will into the four galleries of the new tower. Architects argue ad nauseam about how the narrowness of the ramp restricts one's freedom to stand back and view large works by such 20th-century notables as de Kooning, Rothko, and Serra. Some complain that Wright's sculptural masterpiece overpowers even the largest works. But forget the carping critics — just come to enjoy the sheer experience of the place, its light and lightness.

While the main spiral gallery features changing exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, the intimate Thannhauser galleries in the adjacent small rotunda offer well-known originals by such Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and Cubists as Monet, Degas, Cézanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Picasso. It's always magic for me to revisit my old favorites here — the delicate, often humorous Calder mobiles, the lonely aloofness of Giacometti's stick-like figures, the vigor of van Gogh's Arles works, and Picasso's immortal "Woman Ironing."

There's something about the Guggenheim that seems to liberate people's spirits. On my last visit I passed one elderly woman weeping before Renoir's romantic rendering of a young woman and parrot; two Long Island women expressed outrage at Lothar Baumgarten's strange America Invention installation, which consisted primarily of the names of native cultures of Americas painted on the walls along the spiral ramp ("I mean, what does it all mean?"); a lanky, long-haired intellectual gave a quiet, intense lecture to his female companion on "art as an expression of redundant verbal dichotomies."

And the collection keeps growing — hence the 1992 opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Soho, 575 Broadway at Prince Street. Well worth a visit.

THE PIERPONT MORGAN LIBRARY

When an art historian of the caliber of Kenneth Clark says that in this splendid New York institution "one feels that every object is a treasure, every item is perfect," then you know you're in for a special and uplifting experience.

At first glance the 1906 Morgan Library seems an aloof, austere creation, articulated in the style of a Renaissance palazzo. J. P. Morgan had no interest in fleeting fashions. He wanted a structure that was timeless in its design and reflected the finest craftsmanship his enormous financier's fortune could buy. The great white marble blocks of the library itself were laid dry (without mortar), as in classical Greece, and held together by weight and exactness of fit. Both that, and the elegant 1928 annex built on the site of Morgan's home are admirable creations. The new atrium between them, though clearly of modern vintage, creates a delightfully serene retreat.

I'm surprised at how few residents of New York seem to have visited this rich storehouse of literature and art. Although the library itself can be used only by accredited scholars, the public galleries and exhibition areas contain what, at the time of Morgan's death in 1913 was considered the finest private collection in the country. (In an era when collecting was a popular pastime of the super-rich, that was no mean achievement.)

Housed in rooms richly decorated with murals and Italian Renaissance-style artwork are illuminated manuscripts from the 5th and 6th centuries; such as the lavish Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves; autograph manuscripts of Byron, Keats, and Milton; etchings by Rembrandt; and famous paintings by Memling and Perugino. Stroll through the East Room, where enclosed shelves rise from floor to frescoed ceiling. One can only gaze in wonder at the knowledge and learning stored within those hundreds of leather bindings. There's a complete wall of Bibles, and one of the library's three Gutenberg Bibles is always on display. The collection is priceless.

In the high, red-brocaded study — the West Room — you can stand next to Morgan's carved desk. His presence is almost tangible; the aura of unmitigated power fills the room. One of the guards told me how much he loves being on duty here: "It always makes me feel bigger."

The light-filled atrium in back offers respite from all the grandeur. It connects to the bookshop and educational center housed in a new wing of the brownstone that was home to Morgan's son.

While Morgan's permanent collection is the main draw, there are always facets of his love of books, art, and culture. Ah, what fun the man must have had (despite the humorless portraits of him here that suggest otherwise). We — as typical New Yorkers might say — should be so lucky.

THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART

Leave the hectic, honking streets behind and do what I always do first here — take the escalator to the second floor and sit quietly before Monet's "Water Lilies" triptych, letting the gentle colors, the peace, and the overwhelming silence of his gigantic masterwork ease into your spirit. Thus refreshed, you're ready to begin a stimulating four-floor exploration of the world's foremost museum of 20th century art and design. From a first show in a temporary gallery in 1929 (in the midst of the stock market crash hullabaloo), MOMA was midwifed into existence by founding director Alfred H. Barr, Jr., whose enthusiasm and understanding of contemporary art set the tone for today's institution. As a friend of Picasso, Matisse, and the Surrealists, Barr was at the cutting edge, sharing the dedication of Walter Gropius and his Bauhaus artists and designers (well represented here) to fresh aesthetics of form and function.

The external modesty of MOMA'S International-style architecture in no way suggests the tumultuous innovation that characterizes its collection of over 100,000 works. While many of them, by Picasso, Rousseau, Monet, Matisse, van Gogh, Miro, Klee, and Mondrian will be familiar to visitors, groundbreaking creations by Rothko, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Pollock, Reinhardt, and Diebenkorn still startle, challenging you to eliminate preconceptions and prejudices, to perceive things from unfamiliar viewpoints. For those still harboring skepticism about the aims, and even the talents, of modern artists, it can be enervating. But take heart; the range of other works here — in photography, architecture, furniture and industrial design, sculpture, printed art, even film and video — provides ample relief.

After paying homage to "Water Lilies," I usually touch base with my other favorites: van Gogh's "Starry Night," Dali's "Persistence of Memory," Wyeth's "Christina's World", Matisse's joyful cutout work "The Swimming Pool," Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie," Munch's startling woodcuts, and Stieglitz's immortal black-and-white prints in the Edward Steichen Photography Center. Then on to the fourth floor, where Pinin Farina's flame red Cisitalia "202"GT automobile (created in 1946 and still a touchstone of streamlined design) has a parking place outside the Philip L. Goodwin Galleries design displays, which range from Tiffany Art Nouveau vases to molded plastic furniture.

In addition to its changing exhibitions, brown-bag lunch lectures, gallery talks, concerts, courses, film and video presentations in two theaters, and weekend slide talks, the museum offers three more delightful surprises. First is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, in an outdoor courtyard of trees, fountains, and pools graced by works of Rodin, Moore, Picasso, Matisse. Second is the museum's own bookstore and — even better — the fascinating MOMA Design Store across the street, containing all manner of manufactured objects, from tools to textiles.

MOMA is a wise and intriguing mother, offering us both artistic nurture and a nudge toward new possibilities. Just as a good mother should be.

THE FRICK COLLECTION

Now here's the ideal sybaritic hideaway from a hectic Manhattan afternoon. Through high, oak-paneled doors you leave the hurly-burly of Fifth Avenue behind to become immersed in the ambiance of a gracious 1914 Louis XVI home of Henry Clay Frick. This brilliant giant among early capitalists — contemporary of Morgan, Mellon and Carnegie — effectively combined a passion for robber-baron roguery in the coke and steel industries with discerning sensibilities. The elegant rooms off the sun-dappled indoor Garden Court contain outstanding examples of 14th through 19th century paintings, sculpture, furniture, porcelains, and Limoges enamels. Refined taste verges on dainty decadence in the Fragonnard Room, where Jean-Honor┌ Fragonnard's sumptuous pastel-toned paintings depict "The Progress of Love" in dreamlike garden settings. Even though personally commissioned by the notorious Comtesse du Barry, one of Louis XV's mistresses, the paintings were perhaps considered too ornate for her Neoclassical chateau, and after a brief rest in J. P. Morgan's London home were purchased by Frick in 1915 and installed in this light-filled room. The sibilant sounds of swooshing petticoats and the cooing of doves in soft-leaved trees are almost audible in these works; the glow of newborn ardor in the faces of young lovers impresses even the most jaded visitors.

Creations of the European masters — Titian, Vermeer, Velasquez, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Ingres, El Greco, Holbein the Younger, Goya, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Constable — are focal points of the South Hall, the Anteroom, the West Gallery, the Living Hall, and the Library. While these alone would be more than enough to place this relatively small gallery among the finest in North America, it is the subtle counterpoints and grace notes of the collection that I remember most: In the Garden Court, an enchanting painting, "The Ocean," by Whistler, with its Japanese woodcut overtones; in the East Gallery, one of Degas's limpid ballet studies, "The Rehearsal"; in the West Gallery, Turner's full-of-light intensities in "The Harbor of Dieppe"; in the North Hall, Monet's moody "V┌theuil in Winter"; and in the Living Hall, the trembling delicacy of Bellini's "St. Francis in the Desert," whose colors and spirit of religious awe glow as richly as when the panel was created in 1480.

Despite its sumptuousness, the Frick retains the feel of a private home in which many cherished objects are integrated with respect and love. It reaffirms the boundlessness of artistic creativity, and does so in a very human setting.

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

You don't — you can't — rush here. The scale of this turreted, 1.2 million-square-foot structure of 23 interconnected buildings — the largest and, I think, best museum of its kind in the world — demands measured exploration. Even a superficial appreciation of its 36 million artifacts (thankfully, not all on display) requires time, energy, and endurance. After entering under the Roman arch off Central Park West, you come face to foot with a 50-foot-high skeleton of a barosaur battling an allosaur in the great rotunda. I love to watch children's faces burst into grins of awe and anticipation here. Their eyes sparkle with excitement, and so do mine. Even after a dozen or more visits over the years, I always make some new discovery.

First-timers would be wise to follow a course that moves through the remarkably lifelike (if slightly musty) dioramas of African and Asian mammals and birds of the world and on into the lively anthropological displays on the people of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In the Mesoamerican exhibit, sound effects and a dazzling juxtaposition of masks, golden headdresses, ornaments, and the 20-ton tone of the Sun immerse you in the rich Olmec, Maya, Toltec, and Aztec cultures.

The museum's once predictable and poorly lit displays have been replaced by dynamic, eye-catching sequences of information and images; the line of jostling, trumpeting elephants in the Hall of African Mammals that seems to move straight at you; the 63-foot-long Haida Indian canoe, carved from a single red cedar trunk, occupied by life-sized tribes people, and seemingly speeding torpedo-like through the 77th Street foyer; the 94-foot-long replica of a blue whale floating over the Ocean Life hall; the anatomically correct primitive humans displayed in the new Hall of Human Biology and Evolution. Children flock to the hands-on Discovery Room, where they learn about natural science and anthropology with "discovery boxes" and please-touch specimens.

It's easy to feel a flicker of childlike fear amid the fierce masks of Margaret Mead's collection in the Pacific peoples hall, or before the diorama of ten-foot-long Komodo dragons in the reptiles and amphibians hall — and childlike delight in the mineral and gem displays, an Aladdin's cave of jewels where visitors peer at the 563-carat Star of India Sapphire and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald.

There are shows too; Such you-are-there films as Antarctica and Tropical Rain Forest in the four-story-high Naturemax Theater, multicultural performances in the People Center, explore-the-universe shows in the Hayden Planetarium, plus lectures, classes, films, and tours. Still more is on the way: dinosaurs, on the fourth floor, and new exhibit on ecological issues. Fascinating!

A Guide to The Six Greats, Plus the Rest of The Best of Manhattan's Museums

Most museums open midmorning (or midday on Sundays) and close between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.; most are closed on Mondays. Exceptions to those hours are noted below. Admission fees or donations for adults; there are often discounts for senior citizens, students and children. For more information contact the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 397-8222. The telephone area code for all numbers is 212.

THE SIX GREATS

    Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1000 Fifth Avenue at East 82nd Street
    (212) 535-7710
    Sun., Tues.-Thurs. 9:30-5:15, Fri & Sat. 9:30 to 8:45 $10
    http://www.metmuseum.org

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
    1071 Fifth Avenue at East 88th Street
    (212) 423-3500
    Sun.-Wed. 9-6, Fri.& Sat. 9-8 $12
    http://www.guggenheim.org

    Pierpont Morgan Museum
    29 East 36th Street at Madison Avenue
    (212) 685-0610
    Tues.-Thurs. 10:30-5, Fri. 10:30-8, Sat. 10:30-6, Sun. 12-6 $8
    http://www.morganlibrary.org

    Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
    11 West 53rd Street
    (212) 708-9400
    Sun.-Tues., Thurs., Sat. 10:30-5:45, Fri. 10:30-8:15 $10
    http://www.moma.org

    Frick Collection
    1 East 70th Street
    (212) 288-0700
    Tues.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 1-6 $7
    http://www.Frick.org

    American Museum of Natural History
    Central Park West at West 79th Street
    (212) 769-5000
    Sun.-Thurs. 10-5:45 $10
    http://www.amnh.org

MORE ALONG MUSEUM MILE:
Manhattan's most enticing collection of museums lies along a mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue between 82nd and 104th Streets. For a look at all the websites, consult Yahoo New York City Museums.
    Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design
    This remarkable institution of decorative and design arts is housed in Andrew Carnegie's sumptuous 1902 neo-Georgian mansion. Galleries contain portions of a permanent collection spanning 3,000 years, as well as some of the best changing exhibitions in the city. A sample from my visit: mapmaking, Soviet porcelains, and the art of architects and designers who died of AIDS. Esoteric subjects or not, come anyway, to see how one of America's greatest entrepreneurs lived.
    2 East 91st Street
    (212) 860-6868
    Sun. 12-5, Wed.-Sat. 10-5, Tues. 10-9 $5

    Museo Del Bario
    Recently expanded galleries here provide fascinating exhibitions of the arts and culture of Puerto Rico. The permanent collection encompasses over 8,000 objects created over 800 years and includes paintings, prints, sculpture, drawings and photos.
    1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street
    (212) 831-7272
    Wed.-Sun. 11-5 $4

    International Center of Photography (ICP)
    Pass through the low-key entrance of this 1915 new-Georgian mansion and you instantly sense the art and power of photography. From the tiny rotunda gallery off the elegant marble-floored lobby to the large bookstore and two floors of graceful exhibition galleries, ICP bombards you with images by Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Atget, Arbus, Stieglitz, and many contemporaries.
    1130 Fifth Avenue at East 94th Street
    (212) 860-1777
    Tues.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri. 10-8, Sat., Sun. 10-6 $6

    Jewish Museum
    The recently reopened Jewish Museum occupies a 1908 mansion styled like a Gothic chateau, an elegant reminder of Fifth Avenue's early 20th century glory. The museum's first two floors display changing exhibitions, the upper two floors a colorful, brilliantly organized display of 4,000 years of Jewish culture, featuring hundreds of artifacts from the 27,000-item permanent collection.
    1109 Fifth Avenue at East 92nd Street
    (212)423-3200
    Sun.-Thurs. 11-5:45, closed Fri.-Sat. $8

    Museum of the City of New York
    Housed in a grand 1929 Georgian colonial structure, the collection spans three centuries of New York history. Enjoy period rooms, displays of fire-fighting equipment and Tiffany silver, dioramas of old New York, lively special exhibitions, a fine bookshop, a toy gallery, even a re-creation of John D. Rockefeller's bedroom.
    Fifth Avenue, at East 103rd Street
    (212)534-1672
    Sun. 12-5, Wed.-Sat. 10-5 $7 adults $12 families

    National Academy of Design
    This lesser-known, artist-run institution in a beaux-arts town house offers changing exhibitions by members and selections from its permanent collection of American art treasures. You might see works by Maxfield Parrish, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam, or Reginald Marsh.
    1083 Fifth Avenue
    (212) 369-4880
    Wed.-Sun. 12-5, Fri. 12-6 $5

HARBORSIDE
Two of these famous attractions are more than mere museums — they are icons not only of New York but of the nation itself.
    Ellis Island Immigration Museum
    The splendid displays and films on America's immigrant heritage make this one of the most powerfully evocative museums in America. Just study the faces in the huge photographs and try not to smile (and weep).
    Ellis Island in New York Harbor
    (212) 363-3200
    9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (except in summer). Free.
    East Round-trip ferry from Battery Park: $7 adults; $5 seniors; $3 children under 18; under 3 free.

    South Street Seaport Museum
    This teeming kaleidoscopic celebration of New York's heritage as a maritime center is set in a superb revival of a dockland neighborhood on the East River, with restored sailing ships, unusual shops, pubs, restaurants, outdoor concerts, and a real-life fish market. Museum entry is not obligatory, but it's certainly recommended.
    12 Fulton Street at South Street
    (212) 748-8600
    Wed.-Mon. 10-5 $6

    Statue of Liberty National Monument
    In her newly refurbished state, the world's beloved symbol of freedom stands prouder than ever and offers two modest exhibit galleries — the first on the history of the statue, the second on the story of immigration.
    Liberty Island in the New York Harbor; same phone, hours, and ferry as Ellis Island.

BEST OF THE REST
These are among the most notable of New York's remaining scores of museums.
    New York Public Library
    With its collection of Hudson River paintings, not to mention manuscripts and drawings, the New York Public Library is a wonderful place to visit, whether you come to walk between the lions or read between the lines. Exhibits run year-round.
    Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
    (212) 930-0835
    Tues. 11-7:30, Wed. 10-6.
    Hours may vary depending on collections viewed.
    http://www.nypl.org.

    American Craft Museum
    It's too bad that the vast, architecturally extravagant circular staircase in this light and airy institution does not leave room for more galleries. The changing exhibitions of imaginative work in clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood invariably seem too constrained. Nevertheless, the place excites you with new ways to combine form and function.
    Across the street from MOMA, at 40 West 53rd Street
    (212) 956-3535
    Tues.-Wed., Fri.-Sun. 10-6, Thurs. 10-8 $5

    Children's Museum of Manhattan
    Become a child again and lose yourself in this five-story fantasyland, with hands-on displays, game and story rooms, art studios, an "urban tree house," even a complete TV studio for kids. It's a dancing, climbing, banging, flapping, pulling, pushing place full of vibrant color and laughter. If you don't have children, borrow some.
    212 West 83rd Street
    (212) 721-1234
    Wed.-Sun. 10-5 $5

    The Cloisters
    On a wooded site atop a rocky hill in Fort Tryon Park, overlooking the broad sweep of the Hudson River, the Cloisters is an unsurpassed bastion of medieval European art, housed in a monastery complex. Visitors flock here to enjoy the recorded medieval music that plays in the background while they lose themselves in the shadowy halls and anterooms among rich displays of metalwork, manuscripts, sculpture, stained glass, paintings, altarpieces, and other religious artifacts of the 10th to 16th centuries. Don't miss the Treasury and the world-famous Unicorn Tapestries.
    Fort Tryon Park (Fort Washington Avenue above West 190th Street)
    (212) 923-3700
    Tues.-Sun. 9:30-5:30 (March-Oct.), Tues.-Sun. 9:30-4:45 (Nov.-Feb.) $10

    Forbes Magazine Gallery
    Enter the mind of Malcolm Forbes, remarkable 20th-century entrepreneur. In this intriguing labyrinth you'll be caught up in his (and his sons') almost childlike joy in collecting objects of curiosity and beauty; toy boats, toy soldiers, trophies, presidential papers, autographs, paintings, and his renowned collection of bejeweled Fabergé Imperial Easter eggs. A true jewel of a museum.
    62 Fifth Avenue at West 12th Street
    (212) 206-5548
    Tues., Wed., Fri., Sat., 10-4 Free.

    Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
    What red-blooded patriot could resist visiting a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier? There's a deck-load of jets (check out the lethal-looking Lockheed A-12 Blackbird built for CIA missions), helicopters, a combat center, a hangar deck with early flying machines, warfare artifacts, film clips of the Iraq conflict, satellites and space capsules, a commercial airline cockpit, and undersea bathyspheres. A "thrill simulator" replicates rides on a fighter jet, roller coaster, bobsled, and racing car. And after all this, there's still the destroyer Edson, the submarine Growler, and the lightship Nantucket to explore.
    West 46th Street and 12th Avenue
    (212) 245-0072
    Wed.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 10-6 $10

    National Museum of the American Indian
    You might consider combining a visit to the Cloisters with an hour or two at this unique, if crowded, museum, which contains one of the largest collections of Native American artifacts in the world.
    1 Bowling Green
    (212) 514-3700
    Daily 10-5, Thurs. 'til 8 Free

    Museum of Television and Radio
    In its elegant new high-rise home, this media maven's delight invites enthusiasts to indulge themselves in private viewing and audio consoles (selecting from over 50,000 radio and TV programs and commercials) or in the four theaters that constantly show notable programs and video compilations.
    25 West 52nd Street
    (212) 621-6800
    Tues.-Sun. 12-6, Thurs. 'til 8, Fri. 'til 9 $6

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    The foremost repository of 20th-century American art, the Whitney presents a wealth of changing exhibitions and educational, video, and film programs. Despite it Brutalist bulk along Madison Avenue, the interior galleries soar in white lightness offering ideal settings for its permanent collection of Calder, O'Keeffe, Rauschenberg, Nevelson, de Kooning, Pollock, and Johns.
    945 Madison Avenue at East 75th Street
    (212) 570-3676
    Fri., Sun.& Tues.-Wed. 11-6, Thurs. 1-8 $10

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